The University of Ballarat has moved to quash fears the Mount Rowan Equestrian Centre could close – forcing regular tenants Riding for the Disabled out into the cold.
Victorian opposition spokesman for racing Martin Pakula said the centre was under threat because of the government’s “savage” funding cuts to TAFE colleges.
The centre provides a permanent venue for the Riding for the Disabled Association and allows the University of Ballarat to provide specialised equine and racing-industry training courses.
Mr Pakula said many of the courses offered at the centre were under threat and this week called on Minister for Racing, Denis Napthine, to intervene.
“The courses offered at the centre ... include stable hand, advanced stable hand, track rider, jockey, diploma in racing and certificate two in equine industry,” he said.
“The savage cuts to the TAFE sector mean these courses are now all under threat of closing.”
Mr Pakula said if the courses were unable to continue, the centre may be forced to close.
University of Ballarat Vice Chancellor David Battersby said despite the TAFE funding cuts, Riding for the Disabled was in no danger of relocating.
“I want to emphasise our strong commitment to our partnership with Riding for the Disabled,” he said.
“They will remain at the centre and hopefully expand their activities at the centre.”
Professor Battersby said the university was “very proud” of their Mount Rowan campus.
“It’s a teaching facility which also has other courses, not just equestrian,” he said.
“We’re talking to both sides of government to retain a presence, with regards to racing.”
Professor Battersby said the university had recently started advertising the centre as a multi-use venue and said it was the largest indoor facility in the Ballarat area.
A spokesperson for Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine said the government recognised the need for high quality training across the racing industry.
“Around 90 per cent of all subsidised enrolments in racing qualifications are delivered by providers other than the University of Ballarat,” he said.
“Given the increases in the subsidies provided by government to a number of racing training courses, such as jockey apprenticeships, I am confident training providers, including UB, will be attracted by the opportunities.”